A great way to check our effectiveness as communicators is to ask children what they heard after we tell them Bible stories.
Ten years ago our friend, Pastor Ken Kennedy, then an active pastor in Ontario, sent me samples of what some children had remembered after one year of Bible stories in junior church.
About Creation, one child wrote, In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness and some gas.
Another wrote: The Bible says ‘The Lord thy God is one,’ But I think he must be a lot older than that. Anyway, God said, ‘Give me a light!’ and someone did. Then God made the world.
How about the following child’s imaginative retelling of the story of Adam and Eve?
God split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked but they weren’t embarrassed because mirrors hadn’t been invented yet. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though because they didn’t have cars.
Or how about this child’s mixing up of words that sound the same but have different meanings: Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.
And here’s a thoughtful boy’s reflection: After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about three hundred wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise but that doesn’t sound very wise to me.
I chuckle, as you do. Little children so often give us a fresh view of the sacred and an unexpected surprise over how what we say has come through to them.
But I see promise in the efforts of these congregations to teach children the Bible and the effort these children put forth to understand and retell what they learned.
Then I grow solemn. I honor this grand Book – centuries old, the world’s best seller for generation after generation, a collection of divinely revealed laws, gathered human wisdom and ancient history.
Particularly in this beloved book we have the story of God’s self-revelation, unveiled in the coming to earth of his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
The Bible must be central to our understanding of what we teach about God and about human life, whether we are children or adults. The quirks children may add in early stages can be corrected as the children grow older.
Let us breathe a prayer for the saving influence of the Christian Scriptures on children our lives touch, whether at church on a Sunday morning, in our homes during the week, or even when we pass little children on the street.